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Disability Resource Centre

DRC
 

Student Support Document/CamSIS project

Overview

In June this year (2021), the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) and the UIS CamSIS team started a long-planned project (which began as an Our Cambridge initiative) to develop functionality to improve the identification and communication of access requirements and reasonable adjustments for disabled students. Amongst many features, we are planning to enable the more secure and efficient distribution of Student Support Documents (SSDs) to College and Department Administrators and to give academic and support staff the ability to securely access SSDs by placing the document within the student’s CamSIS record.  There is also an aspiration to enable students to submit information and support requests electronically and ultimately to move away from a 'paper' SSD document altogether. This work will be delivered in stages with the first stage being released on the 16th of November 2021 when we will enable DRC to securely deliver SSD documents to College and Department administrators via CamSIS.

Why do we need this project?

The current SSD process was developed at a time (2010) when disabled students numbered around 1000 and represented around 7% of the total student population. The total number of disabled students stands in October 2021 at over 4300, which is over 18% of the total student population. This increase in disabled student numbers over this period has placed extreme pressure on the process which is increasingly ineffective due to the resources required to manage the volume of documents to be distributed. The current method of distribution also relies on a ‘push’ model where documents are sent by password protected emails to identified individuals (which requires a constant updating of a network of contacts across the collegiate University).  A ‘pull' system where those who require access to the documents could access from a central source (the student’s CamSIS record) presents the opportunity for significant process efficiencies and savings. The dissemination of support information regarding disabled students and the provision of access requirements and reasonable adjustments is a statutory duty and so this is a core priority. A Cambridge Students’ Union report in 2019 found that a large proportion of SSDs had not been seen or read by staff working with them.

What are the benefits of doing this?

A centralised repository for SSDs will save time and money for the DRC, for all departments and faculties, for all Colleges and for the Registry’s Exams team, by radically reducing the time required to distribute the documents, and by removing the complexity from the process. It will also improve quality and experience for students and it will help mitigate risk by ensuring that SSDs are held on the student’s CamSIS record where they can be easily located and read. The current process relies on sensitive & personal confidential information being sent by email, and as the distribution process can be complex there is a risk that the recommendations for disabled students not reaching the staff who need to see and act on them. The potential cost and time savings, given the extent and scope of the process which reaches every department and college are considerable (estimated at over £0.5 Million over ten years).

This page will be regularly updated with information on the progress of the project and on the plans for future phases as that information becomes available.

Further information on the project is available in this short presentation 

If you have any questions, please contact the project team at ssdproject@admin.cam.ac.uk

Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs

How do I distribute the SSDs from CamSIS?

Where possible, it is preferable to distribute the SSD without the use of email. Some Departments and Colleges use Moodle successfully to share SSDs (by restricting access by the CRSIDs of those who need to see them), or specific document management systems. It is recommended that departments use Moodle to disseminate SSDs (using the CRSID to restrict access) and that Colleges use a secure method of distribution within the College Welfare/Tutorial Team(s). Whether you use Moodle or a specific document management system, is a decision for the College or Department/Faculty. Protecting sensitive personal data needs to be a priority.

Who can access SSDs within CamSIS?

From the 16th of November College and Department Administrators can view and download SSD documents from CamSIS. Please note that academics, students and other staff members within your organisation will not have access to view SSD via CamSIS just yet meaning that you will still need to download and disseminate these internally within your organisation. This functionality will be enabled later in the project. 

Do I now need to password protect SSDs?

No, as documents are held on CamSIS, there is no need to password protect unless you are sending them by email.